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TX: 01.06.04 – SUPERMARKET TRIES OUT NEW SCHEME TO COMBAT BLUE BADGE ABUSE

PRESENTER: LIZ BARCLAY

THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY


BARCLAY
Now if you're a disabled driver you could probably tell us a story or two about how difficult it can be to find a parking space, especially when you have heavy shopping to carry. Surveys carried out by the Baywatch campaign have shown that the number of cars left in disabled spaces in supermarket car parks without a valid badge is rising. Earlier this year we sent Shari Vahl to check out the extent of the problem.

VAHL
I'm in Asda's car park in Liverpool, in Sefton Park, and I'm struggling to find any car with a disabled badge. That doesn't, that Renault doesn't, that Vauxhall doesn't. Excuse me - excuse me I've just noticed that you've parked in a disabled parking space, you haven't got a sticker have you?

CAR PARKER
No.

VAHL
Are you disabled?

CAR PARKER
No, not at all.

VAHL
And why have you parked in a disabled parking space?

CAR PARKER
At this Asda there's millions of them so there always seem to be spare ones, so it seems a bit ridiculous not to, I never park in disabled parking bays other than here, there's so many of them there's never that many disabled people needing them.

VAHL
What happens if it became full of people like you?

CAR PARKER
I see everyone else doing it and so I do it too.

VAHL
Do you have a disabled badge?

CAR PARKER WITH DISABLED BADGE
Yes. I mean it's annoying when you can't get in a space, especially if I've got mum with me, but the rest of the time you just got to - there's plenty of spaces nearby so it's normally okay.

VAHL
But you've got a disabled badge - you're not disabled yourself.

CAR PARKER WITH DISABLED BADGE
No.

VAHL
And your mother is disabled?

CAR PARKER WITH DISABLED BADGE
My mum is.

VAHL
And so why are you parking here?

CAR PARKER WITH DISABLED BADGE
Just for totally for convenience.

VAHL
But you're exploiting the badge.

CAR PARKER WITH DISABLED BADGE
Well no I'm not exploiting the badge because I wasn't actually going to use it, I was just showing you the fact that I had one.

VAHL
Yeah but you're parked in a disabled space.

CAR PARKER WITH DISABLED BADGE
Yeah but I'm only coming here to do my shopping, I'm going in and out - I'm only getting cigarettes - I'm coming straight out, so I'm not going to be here all night.

BARCLAY
In response to criticisms of the ease with which most disabled parking schemes can be abused Asda is now piloting a new project. Philip Davis is customer service manager at Asda. Philip, would you like to tell us about the new initiative?

DAVIS
Well it's something that we've been working on for quite some time, I mean we've always been aware that this has been a big issue for our disabled customers and we've tried a few things in the past but the latest scheme really is to have a barrier through to the disabled parking bays and there's a number plate recognition scheme and people register their number plates and if it's recognised by the system the barrier will rise up and let them in. And obviously those people who haven't got a badge and aren't registered can't get in there.

BARCLAY
So how do people register in the first place?

DAVIS
They just register at the store - it's a quick painless process - they just register theirregistration number with the store, with the blue badge - so we can see that they're entitled to park there - and they're up and running. The system does the rest.

BARCLAY
What response have you had from disabled drivers so far?

DAVIS
We've had a great response. It's been really, really popular. You know the people registering have numbered the thousands - not the tens or the hundreds - actually thousands of people have registered with us and the feedback we've had from the customers that they're really pleased that we're trying something else, another new initiative to try and combat this particular problem and that piece you played earlier showed what a difficult problem we have.

BARCLAY
This is technology that's been around for a while isn't it - why not - why is this the first time it's been used in this way?

DAVIS
Well it hasn't been around for that long, I mean it's only recently been used in sort of London with congestion charges and that type of thing, it's a fairly recent technology actually and there's only us that have actually thought of using it in an innovative way to try and help our disabled customers.

BARCLAY
And that's across how many of your stores at the moment?

DAVIS
It's in two at the moment on a trial basis but obviously we'll see how it goes and the feedback we get and if it does reduce the abuse and obviously we'll make a decision about whether we roll it out to other stores based on that information we get.

BARCLAY
Douglas Campbell joins us, he's spokesperson for the Baywatch campaign. Douglas, what's your view of this?

CAMPBELL
Anything that can be tried is worth trying. There's a very real problem out there and I congratulate Asda that they've been prepared to put a lot of money into these two pilot schemes. Quite clearly there is a very big problem and we need to try out things - we're only going to find out what works, what doesn't work, if we get them tried out. It's no good doing it on paper exercises, we need to actually try them on the street and Asda are doing that.

BARCLAY
Have you tried it out yourself?

CAMPBELL
Well it was quite funny - I was passing the store a couple of weeks ago, simply because I happened to be in the area, thought I'd go in and have a look. Unfortunately there were some teething problems at the time - the barrier controlled area was virtually empty but all the disabled spaces outside the area were occupied, so I couldn't park to go into register to use the barrier controlled area. But I'm sure that's a teething problem and no doubt Asda will learn from these sort of things and correct them as they go along.

BARCLAY
Philip Davis, there are some teething problems still to be ironed out?

DAVIS
Yeah sure, that's the nature of a trial, I'm not sure of any trial that anybody does that doesn't have a few teething problems along the way. And the issue that Douglas raised there is a perfectly valid one. We obviously took the time to make sure that there were some spaces outside of the barrier area for people who are there for the first time and obviously we need to learn how many we need in each barrier - behind the barrier and outside of the barrier area. And we will learn from that and obviously Douglas's feedback is very welcome.

BARCLAY
Philip Davis from Asda and Douglas Campbell from the Baywatch campaign - thank you both.

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